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The Giant Gila Monster


IMPORTANT NOTE: A much sharper and cleaner print in the original theatrical release format is now available here: Late '50s teen exploitation Texas style. It's all here - a prejudicial adult figure, a misunderstood young hero who sings and builds hot rods, and of course mediocre rock 'n' roll. The Gila Monster (heloderma suspectum) adds local color, and some might think comedy relief. Filmed in and around Cielo, Texas. Released in 1959.

The Giant Gila Monster is a 1959 hot rod monster science fiction film directed by Ray Kellogg, and produced by Ken Curtis. It stars Don Sullivan, a veteran of several low budget monster and zombie films, Lisa Simone, the French contestant for Miss Universe of 1957, as well as Fred Graham, comedy relief Shug Fisher, KLIF (AM) disc jockey Ken Knox and Bob Thompson. This low-budget B-Movie featured a cast of unknown actors, and the effects included a live gila monster filmed on a scaled-down model landscape. The movie has been released on DVD and is considered a Cult Film.


The movie opens with a young couple parked in a bleak, rural locale overlooking a ravine. A giant gila monster attacks the car, sending it into the ravine and killing the couple. Later, some friends of the couple decide to assist the local sheriff (Fred Graham) in his search for the missing teens. Chase Winstead (Don Sullivan), a young mechanic and hot rod racer, locates the crashed car in the ravine and finds evidence of the giant lizard. However, it is only when the hungry reptile attacks a train (a model train set substituted as a low-budget effect) that the authorities realize they are dealing with a (roughly) 70-foot poisonous lizard. By this time, emboldened by its attacks and hungry for prey, the creature attacks the town. It makes straight for the local dance hall where all the teenagers had gathered for a sock hop. However, Chase packs his prized hot rod with nitroglycerin and rigs it to speed straight into the monster, terminating the lizard in a fiery explosion and heroically saving the town.


  • Don Sullivan as Chase Winstead
  • Fred Graham (actor) as Sheriff Jeff
  • Lisa Simone as Lisa
  • Shug Fisher as Old Man Harris
  • Bob Thompson (actor) as Mr. Wheeler
  • Janice Stone as Missy Winstead
  • Ken Knox as Horatio Alger 'Steamroller' Smith
  • Gay McLendon as Mom Winstead
  • Don Flournoy as Gordy
  • Cecil Hunt (actress) as Mr. Compton
  • Stormy Meadows as Agatha Humphries
  • Howard Ware as Ed Humphries
  • Pat Reeves as Rick
  • Jan McLendon as Jennie
  • Jerry Cortwright as Bob


Filmed near Dallas, the film was budgeted at $175,000 and was produced by Dallas drive in theater chain owner Gordon McLendon

References in popular culture

  • The film was also featured on a List of Cinema Insomnia episodes#Season 5 episode of Cinema Insomnia.< name=""></>
  • DVD releases

  • In addition to being featured on numerous "bargain box" discs, The Giant Gila Monster has been restored in color and released as a double-feature, alongside The Killer Shrews, by Legend Films. It was also released as part of the "Horror Classics 50 Movie Pack" DVD box set.
  • The Mystery Science Theater 3000 version, along with an exclusive interview with star Don Sullivan, has been released by Rhino Entertainment, as part of the Collection, Volume 10.2 box set. Rhino also offered an individual disk for purchase on their web site (for those who already bought Volume 10).
  • See also

  • List of films in the public domain

  • Category:1959 films
    Category:American films
    Category:English-language films
    Category:Black-and-white films
    Category:Giant monster films
    Category:Directorial debut films
    Category:American science fiction horror films
    Category:1950s horror films
    Category:Films featured in Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes
    Category:1950s science fiction films
    Ken Curtis and B. R. McLendon

    More Public Domain Movies